Monday, June 30, 2008

Links of Interest 6/30

If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would most likely be a piece from literature like these people have done. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what it would be. Possibly, "42."

I like my results on this test. Although, I'd like my shark attack percentage to be like 95% - I've seen all the Jaws movies, repeatedly:

Brought To You By Discreet Adult Toys

Yeah, even with the simple stick drawings, I can't get past 4 without my head exploding.

New Hold Steady album is coming out...and here's an interview with their lead singer/songwriter, Craig Finn.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Podcast 9.01 Recap

Our last single-digit podcast was memorable for several reasons. Not the least of which was my rapid-fire catch phrase shoe-horning whenever Goose's defenses were lowered. Other actual content-related content:

  • We discover that apparently Girl Drinks (Chocolate Choo Choo, Blue Crush) are like catnip to women. They even help me throw some game.
  • I talk about the house concert I hosted recently. This segues into an update on the film we made recently.
  • In Musical Interlude, we put on our A&R pants as we discuss songs dear to our hearts that should have been supper-massive mega hits.
  • And finally we re-visit 8.00's ground-breaking The Naughty & The Nottie segment as I throw a couple at Goose he may or may not approve of.
Music from and inspired by Musical Interlude (I couldn't find the Moe or Huffamoose songs, so I include YouTube selections from each):

SeeqPod - Playable Search

  1. Some pictures from my house concert.
  2. "Be Careful What You Wish For...", our award-winning short film, will be posted shortly, possibly in its own blog post.
  3. Girl Drink Recipes:
    1. What I dubbed the Blue Crush.
    2. Goose's Chocolate Choo-Choo was mostly improvised, but there was definitely Godiva Liqueur, Sambuca, and random combinations of marshmallows & graham crackers. And maybe a splash of Spanish Fly.
    3. General purpose drink recipe site:
  4. Lienert/Pickleman Podcast
  5. Goose's Naughty Notties:
  1. Moe - "Not Coming Down", one of Goose's Music Interlude choices

  2. Huffamoose Documentary Trailer (could not find "Him in a Magazine")

  3. ellipsis - Our friend Vale Jokisch's band who did my house concert, performing on NBC-10.

  4. Another house concert I went to recently and recorded several songs by the incredible Felice Brothers.

  5. The classic Kids in the Hall "Girl Drink Drunk" sketch. Watch for the little things like the waitress' choo-choo noises, and Kevin McDonald's slight sigh when Dave Foley starts reading off the Squashed Strawberry Alley Cat ingredients.

  6. Trailer for the Illeana Douglas movie loosely based on the life of Carole King whose name I couldn't remember and whose existence Goose couldn't remember. I'm a big fan of the bad accents and awesome beards/hairdos sported by Turturro, Stoltz, & Dillon. This movie was also notable for having some pretty cool music (e.g. Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach) written in the style of the times portrayed by the movie.
    1. More Wikipedia info.

  7. Cheri Oteri turning me on

  8. Leinert's doppelganger in sound + vision

  9. A snippet of Baldwin & Wilder, apparently on a date. Not that I'm jealous.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Links of Interest 6/24

Grace Jones is an enigma to me. This article doesn't do much to dispel that. I do wish she was working on a follow-up to A View to a Kill.

When people start talking about the possibilities of living longer, the debate about whether people want to always comes up. And I don't understand why - I want to live longer, and would have no problem living until I'm 1000. If I ever had enough, I could take myself out.

Beck is one of those guys that does new things and doesn't care too much about what other people think. His new ideas sometimes work, and sometimes fail, but i have to give him credit for trying out new ideas. This is a "trailer" for his new album.

Here's a new art exhibit of top secret spy satellites...something tells me there are people in Washington that aren't thrilled with this idea. Think this guy can sell some cool ideas to the...well whoever doesn't like the Americans?

A part of me died a little while watching of course I'm going to link to it. Who knew Celine Dion couldn't cover AC/DC? Everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Death Race 2008 - the trailer preview

Goodness gracious. That's my first reaction after watching the trailer to the new movie Death Race, which is a remake of the 1975 movie Death Race 2000. At least I think it is. It seems to have similar attributes, yet the plot has been "reimagined" enough to make it totally incomprehensible.

But I'm not here to write about Hollywood remaking its history for the masses to cash in. No, I'm here to write about the utter ridiculousness of the movie's trailer. Now, I will warn you, if you're thinking about going to see this, and don't want to know what happens during every second of the movie, don't click on the link, and stop reading now. Because this is one of those trailers that spoils every plot twist (not that this is Macbeth or anything) and also shows you exactly what you're going to get when you step inside the theater. You've been warned...

The story sounds fairly routine...ex Nascar driver is framed for murder to come race in a weird prison car competition for his freedom. Along the way he runs into some malcontents, and the the guy from Deadwood (kudos to Ian McShane for cashing in on his Deadwood popularity. I don't begrudge him anything. In fact, his presence does pique my interest. A little at least). So gone is the cross country aspect and pedestrian killing from the original, replaced by a prison background and Joan Allen.

Now, I'm gonna be honest with you, the trailer has a nuke the fridge moment that viewers are either going to go with or tear their eyeballs out. When I first saw it, I was in the latter camp, but now I'm changing my mind. I mean, in a prison setting, the difficulty is bringing in the sex factor for horny, heterosexual adolescents (the main target of this film, obviously). Oz pulled it off somehow by having a woman on death row that slept with inmates, guards, and whoever else stepped foot into her cell. I doubt it would happen in a real life prison, but Oz made the genius move of making everything hyper-realistic, so by that point, you just went along for the ride. I mean, rapid aging pills?

Death Race doesn't have that luxury, so they came up with another way - bus in "navigators" (and while I of course haven't seen the movie, the footage in the trailer makes the race appear to happen on a closed track, making a navigator kinda of moot, but I digress) from the women's prison up the road. Luckily, most of the women prisoners apparently were incarcerated for "wearing really tight clothes," and anorexia so we're treated to the hottest of the hot. I mean, if this were real life, I can't imagine people wouldn't be committing murder on a daily basis, just for the opportunity to get close to these prisonettes.

So yeah, by that point in the trailer, you're either along for the ride or you know you're not going to see this movie. The rest of the way we're treated to a lot of cars and explosions, and obviously the turning point when the lead (Jason Stratham) figures out that the warden might have had something to do with the framejob on him. That leads to the conspiracy of the warden planting a bomb on his car, and well, who knows if he makes it or explodes?

So anyway, my original point was that the trailer shows a little too much of this movie to get me excited. I think there's a way to create at least a little bit of suspense AND still hold some stuff back. I mean, the female prison navigators simply begs to be revealed in the theater for the big laugh, but instead here I am seeing it on my computer months before the movie is released. Heck, who knows though? Maybe the movie is nothing like its trailer and we'll be treated to something with depth, excitement and surprises. I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Links of Interest 6/18

Cool roller coasters from all over the world...check out the one from Australia. It apparently employs a brakeman which I think has to stand on teh train you're riding and assumedly use a brake. I'm gonna be honest, I'm not too keen on putting my life in the hands of a stranger when riding a roller coaster.

I guess it's a noble effort to consolidate your belongings into a simple list of 100, but why put such a severe limit to it? With such an arbitrary goal, it now seems it's nothing more than a frivolous competition to see who can stand it.

One day, someone is gonna get the end of the world right, and then we'll all have egg on our faces. Well, the ones that were lucky enough to move to the moon. Everyone else will pretty much be dead.

Since the pictures of a 10 million pixel screen look awesome, I can only imagine what it looks like in person. Luckily, it isn't too far from where I live.

#9 is the most important, right? Make awesome lemonade and I'll be back. The other things are nice, but quality kills. And to run those pesky little kids down the street I have an ace in the hole - my age. What does that allow me to do? But a liter of vodka to mix into my lemonade.

This list just adds more fuel (a clever pun!) to my theory that humanity is stupid.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bringing out the BBoy in us all

Hello Boys and Girls,

Yes, I've been largely absent, except for a few random comments left on one of Goose's posts. And I don't have much of an excuse aside from having no internet at home and feeling fairly guilty about the idea of having the people who run my "normal" job pay for me to write on a blog. That being said, in the coming months there are a few things to look forward to.

1) That we'll be getting internet back at the house so the blog posts will return.

2) That I do in fact have a torn ACL and will probably have a good month solid to explore the internet, get wrapped up in day time tv, watch lots of movies, MTV, VH1, and numerous other media outlets and allow myself to blog like crazy while I'm laid up at home on some crazy pain meds.

So all that being said, I've found myself with some free time at work and decided to write a blog post. And I'm choosing one right up my alley. That alley being littered with Transformers, pro wrestlers, and dance movies.

A few weeks ago I partook in a little documentary at the Ritz about breakdancing. I really knew nothing about the movie except that breakdancing is inherently awesome and that I like things that are awesome. I talked the lady friend into going and we made a Thursday night of it. The movie was called Planet BBoy and the documentary is a little bit of a history lesson about break dancing followed by the story of the 2005 Battle of the Year.

Now what is the Battle of the Year you might ask? Its a competition held in Germany every year where dance crews from all over the world come to compete. The crews that get the chance to compete in the BOTY take part in competitions in their own country for the chance to go. The documentary follows these dancers who basically spend what seems like 10+ hours a day working on routines together all while trying to make ends working odd jobs, working at their parents stores, and whatever they can do to have enough money to survive on, all striving to make it to the Battle of the Year which in their mind will bring them endorsements, the chance at doing commercial performances, and the whopping grand prize of ..... something like $7,000.

Its actually a really excellent movie. Seeing the home life of these bboys and watching the lengths they go to in order to practice makes you comprehend what its like to want something so badly and so irrationally that you compromise a significant portion of your life in order to make it a possibility.

But on the the real meat of the movie, and the BOTY competition. The way the competition works is the groups all do their routines and then the judges pick four groups. Two who will be dancing for 3rd place and two who will be dancing for 1st. Those four groups then have a dance off for the championship and 3rd place. Awards are then given to the top 3 and also the "Best in show" which goes to the best group performance.

In the end, its a movie I would definitely recommend especially for something like Netflix. As its totally worth renting. And I'll also direct you the reader of the Trick to go ahead and search Youtube for BOTY to find tons of videos.

For some of the best videos, however, check out these below:

Heres a commercial that Last for One did after winning the competition. Bonus points for figuring out what they are selling.

Here's Phase T, a group from France that does a lot of big power tricks and also has a little 14 year old kid in their group.

And lastly, the video you've absolutely GOT to watch. Basically this group called Ichigeki had been competing in the competition for years. They came to the 2005 BOTY and did the performance in the video below. The comment from the judges was that it was the most original and incredible thing they'd ever seen. Ichigeki ended up winning Best in Show and stopped competing together as a group feeling that they could never do something this good again. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Betty White: Return of the Queen

Last night on CBS, Betty Motherfucking White was back doing what she was put on this earth to do.

Letting Knight & McLeod double team her in a broom closet?

Nope. As stimulating a mental image as that may be, I'm talking Password.

Million Dollar Password to be precise.

Like the Stones once sang, I had no expectations. I sat down for an evening of TV last night, figuring I'd flip around until Game 4 of the Lakers/Celtics started at 9 (don't get me started on that particular NBA idiocy, or the 347 Hancock commercials they show every game). I initially thought I had hit the jackpot when I saw one of the Top 3 high-stakes beach volleyball movies ever made was playing on MY PHL17, the Howell/Horton/Kozak cinematic behemoth, Side Out. The frisky yet obtainable Kozak was in the middle of a particularly impressive 2-year run which also included Parenthood, Arachnophobia, and Necessary Roughness (co-starring again with Side Out's acting prodigy Kathy Ireland).

But as many characters in the Airplane! movies said, that's not important right now..

Many a summer weekday morning were spent watching The Queen of Game Shows ply her trade on all the Password permutations, though the Convy years stick out most in my mind.

But this was like turning on the NHL Finals and seeing Gretzky or Montana lace them up one more time. Well, to be more precise, Gretzky if he had a little twinkle in his eye that indicated he knew every dirty joke you know and another hundred you don't. Or if Montana were hot - in a drunk Betty Crocker kinda way.

That was the beauty of Betty White. She had the perfect combination of sweet and sinful. I picture her with a pan of fresh-baked cookies in one hand and a pair of handcuffs in the other.

The way she wielded her rapier wit on Password (or any of a hundred other game shows), there was no doubt that she could hold her own in any dive bar, stag party, or juke joint. Her zingers were surface-clean, but there were layers. Dirty, innuendo-soaked layers rife with horny traveling salesmen and randy farmer's daughters.

After watching last night's MDP, she may have lost something off her fastball, but she still paints the corners with the best of 'em.

She flirted with Regis. Her reply to Regis saying she was an "old pro", is that he was half right. And she ordered a vodka rocks at one point.

She also had several awesome in-game moments, the last of which might be one of my favorite moments in television history.

  1. You can see this in the YouTube preview below, but the way she says "Hello" kills me.
  2. The password was "paws".
    1. She was receiving (the clues) from the contestant.
    2. 1st Clue: "dog"
    3. 1st Guess: "tail"
    4. 2nd Clue: "feet"
    5. 2nd Guess? "Pedicure"
  3. The password was "balloon"
    1. The first 3 clues were "air", "helium", and "party".
    2. She responded as any 86-year old woman would: "Rave"

I had problems transcribing it without giggling. The fact that she knows what a rave is, much less have it in the forefront of her brain when those clues were presented, shows that she's a party girl of the first order.

I did have a few quibbles with the Million Dollar Password format:

  1. Too lenient with the "close" guesses. "walnut" was an acceptable substitute for "nut"? I think not.
  2. Too lenient with penalizing bad clues. "Boyfriend" should not be an acceptable clue for "girlfriend".
  3. Ugh, enough Regis. Besides being tired of his shtick, he only did the condescending Dick Clark 25K Pyramid "suggest the perfect clue after the contestant has lost" once. Grow a pair, Reeg.
  4. I miss the Super Password! gimmick where all the words were clues to another word, and whoever guessed that won the round.
  5. The money round is similar to Millionaire, in that you keep moving up levels of money, but you can lose the money you won if you go too far and fail.
    1. After each successful level, you have to decide whether you want to continue playing and risk the money or as Betty so eloquently put it "take the money and run like a thief". Though if the cameras weren't on, I'm sure she would've worked something in about Puerto Ricans. Betty White *hates* Puerto Ricans.
    2. The producers decided to pop a hole in the tension balloon by showing the contestant the first 5 (of a potential 6) words in the next-to-last ($250K) round. Both times the contestants took the $100K they had won, and I can't blame them, since the $250K words did look tough. But that's making it too easy on the contestants.
  6. The less-hot of the 2 contestants won each time. We need to get David Stern in charge of this show and reverse that trend.
  7. The Babazoni guy's eyes scared me. They bugged out like he was a lecherous cartoon wolf.

Anyway, it was a delightful surprise to see Betty White back where she belongs. Actually where she belongs is in a time-machine to become my aunt who would sneak me sips of beer and countless Charles Nelson Reilly stories. Or maybe as a wise but libidinous English teacher who would introduce me to the ways of Keats and languid love-making.

Some streaming video goodness:

Betty takes over briefly from the master (Gene Rayburn) during Match Game.
Stroke that skinny mike, you minx.

A promo for her on MDP:

The full MDP episode from CBS' site (with ads, FYI):

Lake Placid - "If I had a dick, this is where I'd tell you to suck it"

And to put the perfect cherry on top of this ice cream sundae of awesomeness, here's what a minimal amount of Googling for Betty White info led me to. Prepare your souls for the long, dark tea-times they're about to experience:

Elton & Betty White (not what you think) (at all) (really)


Links of Interest 6/12

Damage control for Mr. Shyamalan? I have heard some not-so-great stuff about this movie coming from the director's camp. Still, the imagery looks pretty frightening. Here's the red band trailer, though I wouldn't click on it if you want to head into the movie pure.

True story... in high school (way too old for me to being doing stuff like this) I went to my old high school, which had been turned into an office building. I knew there was a bomb shelter there and I wanted to head down. So I got there, went in, and went into the bomb shelter, which was also I guess the boiler room. I don't know, it had a lot of machinery down there. This article, while having nothing to do with my story (aside from the trespassing angle), is still worth checking out.

Here's a cool little quiz about movie sequels
. I got a miserable 1/10. Though I defy you to do better. Let me know in the comments.

The author of this piece really delves deep into the food psyche of our politicians. Can food sink a candidacy? I don't know about that, and some of his points are little shoehorned in (Quayle not being able to spell potato certainly doesn't have anything to do with his eating habits) but I can see the beer and coffee conundrums potentially hurt numbers.

We here at The Popcorn Trick love The Hold Steady, so I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the group is streaming their latest album on their myspace page.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Links of Interest 6/11

Remember when cities were going to be built around this wonderful invention - and then the invention turned out to be Segways? Sometime between then and now they went from being able to revolutionize the way people commuted to being a good prop for comedic gold. For evidence, click here.

Absurd this guy thinks the army can force protesters away by forcing them to take a dump. 1. The Brown Note, up to this point, is a fallacy, and 2. What militaristic group would want to deal with the aftermath of unleashing a weapon like this on a crowd of thousands? Think about it.

Two great sets of capturing the recent world events involving water, the other involving pictures of space.

Why isn't the possibility of games being fixed in the NBA getting more attention? True, it could simply be a guilty man trying anything to deflect blame off himself and making things up, but still - shouldn't it be investigated? Other than an occasional story buried on ESPN, I've seen nothing about this. Isn't there an expose in here somewhere? Steroids in baseball get congressional hearings; an alleged NBA game fixing conspiracy gets a couple words and that's it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Links of Interest 6/10

So many unanswered questions in this video...where are they? Who thought it was a good idea to have a panoramic mountain shot behind them? Why is Kirk Cameron hanging on every word? Are we really supposed to believe a banana is the ultimate proof of God's existence? Guess these two are really going to be ticked off when bananas leave this mortal coil in the next 20 years or so, as they're becoming extinct. What God would forsake us of bananas?

William Shatner is a complex man. Seriously. I know people love to poke fun of him (myself included, and it's easy - here's an example) but shouldn't we also respect him as an artist? You have to give him this - he takes chances and doesn't care about the consequences.

You hate to see this, but with video games moving into the homes within the last 20 years, there's simply no reason to go to an arcade. Although, there is something to be said walking into a random arcade, and scoping out the game scene, debating which machine to put your quarter into. That sense of random variety is slowly disappearing in our society, and I think we're worse off for it. Our customizable, on demand world breeds a stronger sense of entitlement, which only makes us more selfish and petulant. And so concludes my "old guy on a porch rant."

Now this is how you get some cool publicity.

I'm a sucker for cool photography. By clicking on this link, I'll know you are too.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Links of Interest 6/9

Legos were probably my favorite toy growing up, so I'm a little disappointed in myself for not coming up with this awesome idea myself.

I love thinking about and debating things like this. I'm pretty sure, if I were to accidentally be transported to 1000 A.D. I would not only be able to survive, but also thrive. And now, with this thread going on, there's no stopping me.

I just like how this viewer gives us some access to our Milky Way. Awesome tool if you like the astronomy.

I'm having a hard time trying to find a silver lining in the R. Kelly trail for Mr. Kelly. Not 100% sure invoking the Wayans' classic "Wee Man" is going to get you off. Seriously though, I don't believe his defense attorneys have the right strategy...though I don't have a great strategy either. Maybe simply showing Trapped in the Closet a couple of times would suggest to the jury that no man with that level of genius should be locked up. Feel free to suggest your own R. Kelly defense in the comments.

Jeez, Lou - now I won't be able to hear you waxing poetically about the "truth about music" anymore, since someone dared to ask whether you were making any money on something. I'm crushed.

The Hidden Hollow Files

The Hidden Hollow Files is an attempt to recount the golden era (1991-1994) of Hidden Hollow Swim Club, a pool facility nestled in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

For previous Hidden Hollow Files, go here, here and here.

Filter Cleaning

If the average person were asked to list the most dangerous jobs they could think of, lifeguarding probably falls near the bottom. After all, who thinks sitting out in the sun all day is wrought with peril? Aside from possibly falling off a lifeguard stand or the occasional bout of heatstroke (and you’d have to be really stupid to suffer that, since the nature of your job sits you in close proximity to a large body of water) there aren’t too many occupational hazards one could come up with.

And that’s why lifeguarding at Hidden Hollow was so different…

Danger lurked in many of the nooks and crannies at the swim club, making the job that much more interesting for teenagers who think they’re invincible. You either embraced the fact that you could die in a variety of different ways and went about your business, or you took a job picking strawberries in the fields with men that may or may not have seen the business end of a whip working plantations down in the south. Danger certainly kept you on your toes, and there were many a guard who couldn’t handle it.

Which is why it’s so strange that of all the things that happened to us at the pool, the closest I ever came to death (and it wasn’t mine) had nothing to do with faulty machinery, and everything to do with the evil that lives in the heart of man. To explain how it all went down however, takes a little background into how the pool operated, and how we worked that system to its fullest advantage…

Being a lifeguard at Hidden Hollow didn’t mean sitting in the sun all day and ogling bikini-clad nannies and moms who had treadmills in their basements. Off the stand, guards were expected to handle a variety of tasks that kept the pool operational. And as anyone who has worked behind the scenes of a public facility will tell you, one will find the underbelly of humanity doing those tasks. Apparently, the general public is a group that feels entitled – entitled to treat any place that isn’t theirs as a sewer. An involuntary witness to a variety of disgust and shame, Hidden Hollow could harden one like no other summer job could. As the movie 8mm told us, “There are some things you can’t unsee.”

Running the pool meant more than a sticking a few hoses in the pool to make sure they were chemically safe for people to enjoy. There were bathrooms to clean, trash to dispose of, trees to prune, picnic benches to move (don’t ask); basically a lot of general upkeep that people don’t think about and a lot of cleaning and disposal of things that people don’t want to think about. And since these jobs were less than glamorous, few people openly volunteered for them. Most guards happily slathered themselves up with baby oil and made a day of bronzing themselves out in the summer sun, paying lazy attention to the pools while getting paid. The boredom of a lifeguard stand seemed like a good option when faced with mucking out a bathroom.

Unfortunately, I could never truly enjoy the sun like my leather-skinned bound coworkers. Never mind that being a redhead forced me to see the sun as God’s assassin. Sitting alone for 8 hours a day twirling a whistle between my fingers just didn’t keep my brain occupied. And there were only so many 2-foot handball games I could umpire before the kids stomped out of the pool in protest of one of my calls. (2-foot handball games were great, don’t get me wrong. Being that the pool was octagonal in shape, it made for a perfect field. Throw a nerfball into the mix, and anywhere from 2 to possibly 20 (I’ve seen it) kids can have fun playing a crude game of baseball.) Seriously though, I can still feel the drips of sweat trickle down my back as I sat in those fiberglass chairs during high noon, trying to visually patrol a 50-meter long pool packed with summer vacation kids who made the extras from Escape from New York look like nuns. After awhile, my little remaining sanity begged me to look for alternatives.

Enter filter cleaning.

Hidden Hollow was made up of 3 large pools. One filter kept the 2 original pools of the swim club “cleanish;” later when a third pool was added, the owners realized the original system couldn’t handle everything so they built a second filter specifically for the new pool. Each filter sat within fifteen feet of one another, covered with huge heavy steel plates, to insure no hyperactive three year olds running through the grounds would plummet to their deaths. Too heavy for one person, they had to be removed one by one to get into the guts of the filters.

Without getting too technical (because I’m pretty sure no one knows the true technical side of it) pool water went into the filters, with all the leaves, dirt, food, trash, fecal matter, dead insects, plastic toys, sexual paraphernalia, rodents, etc. that landed or fell into a pool throughout a normal day, and after a rinse cycle of sorts through chemical-doused plates, would come back out, all clean and ready to face the day.

Of course, all that debris stayed in the filter, creating a delicious, gooey soup. And that soup couldn’t be left to stew for too long, so the filters had to be cleaned out about once a week. A simple definition of cleaning of the filters meant two people had to shut them down, completely drain them, get down in the muck and scoop out the clutter and diatomaceous earth (I think it was put in to kill bacteria, and organisms before they could amass and destroy humanity) with dustpans, hose everything off, give the walls a scrub, and then refill and turn them back on.

And yet it was so much more than that.

Don’t get me wrong. We weren’t baking cakes down there. Cleaning filters had its degrees of suckiness. Aside from everything I previously mentioned (chemicals, mutant bacteria, filth) there was also the fiberglass issue. The older of the two filters was beyond the state of needing to be replaced. That it continued to work during my tenure should be turned into a Discovery Channel series. Decomposing metal dotted the rusty landscape. Occasionally someone from the orchard whose expertise was in fruit production management would come down and patch areas with strips of fiberglass cloth. I am not a pool technician so I wouldn’t know the first place to buy this stuff, but I can’t imagine any reputable dealer carried it. When wet it had a paste-like malleable form, and could be easily placed in the nooks and crannies of the filter until it dried into a miniature mountain range or razor-edged crags, ready to take off any of my toes if I looked at it with a questionable disposition. But the hazards of cleaning filters paid off in one major way – it kept us off the lifeguard stand.

My friend Mark and myself turned filter cleaning into an art form. Where many guards saw a job they least wanted to do, we saw opportunity. We cleaned the filters so often it became our unofficial job. We created the filter-cleaning schedule, and let managers know when it needed to be done. In fact, we put so much enjoyment into it, other guards slowly developed a weird sort of envy. I guess you could call it a sort of reverse Tom Sawyer phenomena. Seeing how much enjoyment we took in something made it the “in” thing to do. Envy though turned into a lightly veiled hatred when they began to realize how much time it took us. In all honesty, cleaning filters needed about an hour’s time for two people; I think at the peak of our filter run we clocked 5 hours. But we didn’t mind the acid-filled stares we got from some of the guards. Management knew our value down in the trenches, and as long as we had their buy-in, none of the guards were going to be able to do a thing. We were a tick on the soft underbelly of an overfed/under exercised dog; we were dug in, and nothing short of suffocating us with Vaseline would make us give up that gig.

That’s not to say the head guard never gave it the old college try.

Resentment slowly grew among some people at the pool every time they saw Mark and I pulling off the metal plates of the filters. Resentment that Mark and I not only gleefully ignored, but even occasionally, pointed out, with pithy comments yelled across the pool. Things like, “Ha ha, we’re about to take 5 hours to clean the filters,” and “Sucks to be you sitting on the stand all day while we goof off.” Playful jabs designed to lighten the mood.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, they had a slightly opposite effect. People got mad, people complained. As I said before, our managers realized the filters had to be cleaned, and if nothing else, we did our jobs and kept them running. The time spent down there was a minor inconvenience they could look past.

Our head guard, Mowenz, had a different opinion of our work ethic.

He saw our deliberate pace as nothing less than insubordination of his authority. And, full disclosure, it pretty much was. Yet, everything we did pretty much was an insubordination of his authority, and our argument to him was, we at least were getting something done at the pool. Our arguments did no good. But since management was on our side, there was little Mowenz could do officially. It was our mistake not to foresee that would lead him through unofficial channels…

The newer filter had no Malaysian Gate fiberglass quick fixes we had to worry about. It pumped and cleaned at a quick pace, as it only had to handle one pool. But being more efficient didn’t mean it was easier to clean. In fact, of the two, this was the tougher job.

Roughly 12 feet by 20 feet, its trickiest dimension was its depth, which dropped to 12 feet below the ground. Acting like a bomb shelter, the plates were also considerably larger, and took up much more space. Cleaning them took nothing more than a hitting them with a hose from above ground. The hard part was taking care of the old muck. With the filter drained, it fell to the concrete floor, 12 feet below, beneath the filter plates. That meant one had to climb down, and then crawl underneath the plates, all the while scooping muck back toward the accessible ladder and into a bucket, that was then carried out. The major issue was that the clearance between floor and filter plates was about 18 inches – not a lot of breathing room. It meant crawling around a 240 square foot area on your stomach in filth, as water dripped on you from the plates above. Slow going and not the least bit appealing, even we dreaded heading down into this manmade pit to scoop muck out.

Yet it still had to get done, and we weren’t about to let some younger version of ourselves jump at the chance to out “us” us by taking a horrible job and turning around into an opportunity, so we routinely volunteered to clean this filter as well.

And that’s where we found ourselves one hot summer day… down in this pit, the steel plates off, the filters drained. Everything had been hosed off and we were taking turns scooping the pool’s gruel and bucketing it out. Like GI tunnel rats we belly-crawled through unmentionables, to reach into every corner with our dustpans.

Mark was underground. I watched him descend as I carried my bucket of slop to…well let’s not get into where things like this got disposed. It’s a boring part of the story and I’m not 100% sure the statute of limitations is up. Walking away I saw Mowenz approach the filters. Nothing out of the ordinary, as head guard he had to know how everything was going. Confident Mark would give him some bullshit excuse about why it was taking us hours to finish, I trudged on.

Coming back on the scene, I witnessed (a good, legal term apropos to the situation) something a little unusual. Mowenz, with a sly smirk, was climbing out of the “guts” which housed all the pumps, wheels and pipes that controlled the pool’s water flow. It sat right next to the filters, and that’s where we turned off the water so that filters would drain. I also heard the filters mechanically grind back on. I didn’t see Mark anywhere.

Curious, I quickened my pace to see what was going on. More annoyed than anything, I figured Mowenz didn’t buy any of our excuses and was forcing us to “wrap it up.”

I got back to the filters. Still no sign of Mark. Mowenz still had a grin on his face.

“Where’s Mark?”

No response. Just a grin. A grin with a purpose. A grin with a mean streak. I didn’t need an answer. That grin told me everything I needed to know.

Mowenz, in some sort of psychopathic glee, had turned the water on while Mark was still down below, underneath the plates.

Before I could make any kind of decision (dive in? try to turn the water off? Run and pretend I wasn’t there? Work on my testimony?) Mark appeared, stumbling up the ladder and out. Luckily (for everyone, I stress), the filter didn’t fill rapidly enough to trap him and he scurried out before drowning. How he avoided the numerous metal bars and hanging pieces in his haste I will never know; all it would have taken was one blow to the head to slow him down and create a potential crime scene.

Mark tumbled into the grass, and the three of us just stood there in a weird, amateur Mexican standoff; Mowenz with the grin still painted on his face, Mark simultaneously trying desperately to catch his breath and piece together what just happened; and me, in a state of amazed confusion, wondering if I should make a citizens’ arrest.

I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I wasn’t sure what was supposed to happen next. I don’t think Mowenz realized what his actions could have caused. I don’t think Mark realized how close he came to dying. An uneasy calm settled over the scene.

And that’s the way it would stay…an uneasy calm.

I certainly replayed the events not only in my head, but also to any guard that would listen. This wasn’t something you necessarily shrugged off and went back to work. But that’s exactly what happened. To his credit, or (whatever you want to describe it as), Mark semi—casually laughed everything off. Whether it was meant to be just a silly prank or some sort of darker message, I’ll never know. It certainly didn’t speed up our filter cleaning, but it did force us to keep a close eye on Mowenz whereabouts whenever we went about our task.

To this day the whole thing hasn’t truly sunk in to my collective. I’m still not clear on the consequences had Mark never made it out of that filter. While I almost died numerous times at the pool and witnessed countless more near deaths, this was action was different. Not that our teenaged minds figured that out at the time. By the next day the event had become part of our vernacular, and I’m sure a few of the guards were disappointed by the non-tragic outcome. And for me, I was just happy nothing changed. We continued to slack off during filter cleaning, guards still resented us, and Mowenz was still Mowenz. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Links of Interest 6/6

I mean, the training scene in Rocky IV is so completely over the top, there should be a separate category for it. Or perhaps name the award after it. Seriously, why train in Siberia? There are similar climates in the Western Hemisphere.

Waaay back in 1995, I brought up a point with a professor about the adverse effects of staring at a computer screen too much. My point was there was simply no way to know what those effects could be, since we were (close at least) at the beginning of the computer age. I was met with deafening silence. Why do I bring up this story? Because this article has some similarities to my earlier predictions.

I'm going to link to this collection of celebrities that should never sing in public and leave it at that. To call out a favorite, or ridicule them would be just wrong. And if you know me, you certainly know what I'm talking about.

I love guerrilla marketing, so I really liked this little history about it. I hope you do too. And I hope one day to start my own guerilla marketing for this blog and the podcast. So keep an eye out. Ideas have been bandied about.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Links of Interest 6/5

Oh yeah, this is easy to follow. Of the three science ideas here, the last one is obviously the head scratcher. I have enough trouble with one dimension of time, and now people want to add another one? Could you imagine the time loop possibilities on Lost if that happened? Please feel free to explain it all to me if you happen to be a quantum physicist looking for the top 25 80s tv show theme songs. Or if you just want to show that you're smarter than me.

I don't know, it seems to me that R. Kelly might be in a decent amount of trouble. I can only hope he gets acquitted so he can continue to make the world's greatest music.

I love Wired's jab at the end of the article. So subtle, yet so spot on.

Ok, I understand that this was a bike race, and not the common roads around my town, but I'll take this moment to rail against the etiquette of cyclists in general (Cue stereotyping)...I don't know if there's a more elitist group out there than cyclists. Screaming about their right of way, yet barely pausing to obey traffic laws themselves, the double standard they have created goes by largely ignored. And what's with the tight clothes? I understand if you're in a bike race, but if you're just out for a stroll, loose clothing creates more drag which in turn makes it harder to cycle which in turn gives you more of a workout. Am I missing something?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Daily Links 6/4

Take a look at this... this guy hates computer monitors – and his coworkers (by the way, I fully expect this to explode on the Internet, followed by the discovery that it’s viral marketing for some vacation resort. If it doesn’t it should be and I’ll happily write the ad).

One day I will travel to these islands.

I disagree with this assessment about how made up acronyms can never be funny. I will say, they will never be funny in the workplace, because there are lines that people just won't cross. But, if you ever do cross those lines, I guarantee at least a few people will laugh.

David Foster Wallace is strange to me; in the sense that I'm not sure how to react to him, or more specifically, his writings. I want to like him because I think that makes me look more intellectual. But, I just can't do it. I've read a few of his essays, and they simply go above my head. Even this Q&A includes things that I can't think about without making my head hurt. That being said, it certainly doesn't diminish his intellect, and it's not hard to see he is an intelligent person. So take a look, but just make sure to have a dictionary handy (rapacity? mendacity? epileptoid? I must be an idiot). It's his take on the 2000 McCain election; I believe it's coming out now to show how much McCain has changed his tune in 8 years.

Do you think Scientology has a cabal of assassins they can send out and do their bidding? I hope not, and I hope that if they do, they don't want to kill anyone simply linking to an article like this.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Green River Killer - in 4 hours

Miniseries: The Capture of the Green River Killer, Lifetime Network. 9:00

Anyone watching this?

Ok, I understand that it's on Lifetime, and the 4 readers of this site don't stumble onto Lifetime very often other than to ogle reruns of The Nanny. I also understand that, the current generation of television watchers can hardly handle 3 minutes blurbs, so a 4-hour miniseries is really going to be met with disdain. But still, it's an interesting subject (serial killer) and it has a fairly well known actor (that guy from Ed. Alright, so he won't be challenging Clooney anytime soon).

Anyway, I did happen across it last night. At first, I thought it was something old, just being replayed on Lifetime. But once I saw it was made this year, my interest was piqued. Now, the Green River Killer taunted police for years (apparently 20 or so) and killed prostitutes up in Washington state. The miniseries decided to split the story between the detective on the case, and a troubled female youth, who I am guessing met up with the killer (only part 1 has been shown, but there was ominous foreshadowing last night, so I think my prediction is safe).

As far as miniseries go, it's decent, though I really wish they would have dropped the troubled youth storyline. It's not adding much to the original story. I understand I'm not in Lifetime's demographic necessarily, but they're the ones running serial killer miniseries, not me. By using this storyline, they really short change the whole investigation aspect, moving the story along sometimes years at a time. By not choosing a consistent voice, they've lost an opportunity to make something really good. As it is, we're left to guess why the FBI and the lead investigator are at odds, and why the police didn't have much to go on.

Another nitpick, when they go to meet Bundy in prison (really, you have to watch the movie, but it happened in real life) the guy playing Bundy was just terrible. No charisma, not very well acted and just silly. I was hoping for a Harmon reprise, but the producers either weren't smart enough to go that route, or didn't have enough money.

Now, I've only seen part one, and let's be honest, I was flipping back and forth between the Phillies game and World Poker Tour, so it didn't have my undivided attention. But I don't blame myself (I rarely do), I blame how they put it together. So, let's get it out of the way - this is no Deliberate Stranger. While that's probably the high water mark of serial killer miniseries, this one doesn't come close. And it's a shame.

Of course, I've only seen the first part, so if the second part is fantastic, I'll issue my mea culpa tomorrow.

Links of Interest 6/3

Vanity Fair, c'mon. This article about Bill Clinton really isn't all that earth shaking. Vague suggestions of infidelity, a quicker temper, and the possibility that he might be subconsciously sabotaging his wife's campaign. There's nothing here that isn't suggested every day by his detractors. Can I get something that tells me something I don't know?

The Large Hadron Collider is that big thing in Switzerland that is going to create an artificial black hole. Now, there are suggestions that it will destroy the world somehow, but I'm not worried about that too much. I'm worried about these!

What do you think? Another 2 weeks before we start hearing people chirping about global warming on Mars?

Here's a feel good story about something Disney didn't crush after acquiring it. On the contrary, it's probably a win-win for both companies.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Links of Interest - June 2

Happy June everyone!

Seems that after No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers wanted to try something lighter for their next flick. Although, I still am getting a slightly darker vibe than straight up comedy. Good to see the guy from Sledgehammer is getting work though.

I have been thinking about getting a personal tank. And now I can, from! Please don't miss reading the awesome comments on this one.

Thanks to Time Magazine, we can now be invincible to natural disaster!

This story is 1032 K.

I get uneasy when people tell me what I shouldn't be doing. Call it the libertarian in me. I get really uneasy when people tell me what I shouldn't be doing and it's still considered legal in some places in this world. I'm sorry the Internet has given me access to those places. Until there is a level of regulation (and I'm not sure I'm even for that) it should be a non-issue. Unfortunately, that's not the case at all when it comes to online gambling.